By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
All smiles, shaking hands and meeting new people, politicians from near and far worked the crowd Friday at the Curry County Fair.
As locals arrived for a night of fun and games, candidates converged on them hoping to make an impression that will last until the November elections.
David King was greeting people waiting in line for food before the stock sale, passing out oversized cards and shaking hands. “If you’re hunting, you gotta go where the ducks are,” he said with a big smile.
King is the Republican vying for the District Two seat on the Public Regulation Commission. Raised on a farm, he said he feels at home in the dirt-floor stock sale environment.
“I like to see the livestock and the dairy cattle,” he said.
Being at the fair and seeing children engaged in farming and animal sales was inspiring, King said. “I come to see the kids. It prepares them for free enterprise.”
Election season is always high paced, the former state treasurer said. “I’m getting a little tired, but we’re having a good time,” King said.
Approaching people with a ready handshake, Vickie Perea, a Republican running for secretary of state, was speaking with members of the crowd at the sale barn as they ate dinner.
“I love just knowing that the fair is all abut the kids ultimately. Anything we can do to support the young people in the community — it’s all about young people,” she said.
Perea said traveling and visiting community fairs are fun, and the food is not a bad bonus.
A fan of candied apples and funnel cakes, she explained she hadn’t had her favorite treats yet and was waiting to indulge later. “I’m shaking hands and I don’t want it all over my face,” she laughed.
Barry Green of Melrose was waiting for the sale to start when he met Perea as she made her rounds.
“Anytime you have a gathering of people the politicians fly like moths to a flame,” he said. Green doesn’t mind meeting candidates, he said, but “you meet them (during campaign season) and never hear from the again.”
Inside the commercial barn, political party members worked the crowd at decorated fair booths.
Gloria Wicker, a Democrat running for probate judge in Curry County, handed out popcorn and balloons to passersby.
Being indoors had helped her reach more voters, she said. The evening rain showers had driven the crowds to seek shelter, giving her great proximity to many people, Wicker said.
As of early evening Friday, she said she had handed out 1,000 bags of popcorn and countless other items. “I wish it’d come more often,” said Wicker, who admitted she loves the fair. “I think it’s fun.”